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The basic idea of this guide is to provide an easy access to the art of warding as well to improve mediocre players. There are already many good and even better wardguides out there nevertheless I will try to provide a quick overview with a marked mainmap. One of my goals while creating this was to focus on wards you can always use. This means there are probably better wardspots as soon as a tower has fallen. It also includes many points with nearly the same vision and purpose. Here it is up to you to find out which spot you prefer. It will not include a list with heroes who should buy the wards through the different stages of the game. Anyhow most of the time the support/gang heroes should get them but those can vary each game. Besides even typical carry players should know at least the basic wardspots.

Ward basics
To mark the start here are the basics just for the sake of completeness:

Observer Ward 200 Sentry Ward 200
Lasts 6 minutes Lasts 3 minutes
Contains 2 charges Contains 2 charges
Maximum stock of 2 in store 
Store stock takes 6 minutes to replenish 
Stacks with itself in inventory Stacks with itself in inventory
Observer Ward has 1600 vision, 200 HP, and is invisible Sentry Ward has 70 vision, 950 AoE True Sight, 200 HP, and is invisible

Marked mainmap

  • Wards with runesight
  • Wards to block creepcamps
  • Wards to discover important places
  • Wards with basesight

Let's have a closer look how much vision each ward will provide.

Top Rune

Minor vision mid lane

Provides jungle vision, important to set it behind tree not in front, often used spot

Pretty far vision unfortunately of not so important places, good alternative if the other spots are counterwarded

Vision for mid lane

Vision of ancient spot, small vision mid lane, good spot mid game

Bottom Rune

Blocks camp, better vision towards river

Blocks camp, minor vision into jungle

gives minor vision of jungle, rather safe, also blocks the camp

useful as antigang ward, jungler protection

safe alternative, vision of sentinel pathing, jungler protection

Roshan entry, often used

Roshan entry, often used, a bit more vision

Roshan entry vs sent, safeguard while killing roshan

Scourge Jungle

Blocks left camp, antigang, eat/cut tree for even more vision

Blocks top camp, sight to second pullcamp/river

Blocks camp, safe alternative

Blocks camp, small lane vision

Sight of 2 camps, decent overall, useful for ganging

This one deserves 2 pictures, tower, base entry, far sight..

Two camps

Provides vision of all 4 ways

Sight to mid lane, behind the trees at tower

Sight to mid lane, antigang out of jungle, protection of scourge jungler

Shop, safeguard while killing roshan, scourge ancient spot

Sentinel Jungle

Blocks camp, relative safe

Blocks camp, provides extra vision

Blocks two camps!, provides decent vision of sentinel jungle, target a bit below the bush to set this ward perfectly

Provides rune vision, blocks camp

Provides rune vision, blocks camp

Provides rune vision, blocks camp

Blocks camp, far sight

Vision of jungle entries, small camp vision

Minor lane vision, vision of 2 creepcamps, useful for (anti)ganging

Small vision mid lane, good for tower pushing/defending

Vision Bottom Lane

Far sight towards bottom lane..

also vision of creep camp

Tower, gives vision of jungle, lane

Tower, I prefer this one

Alternative for vision of tower

Tower, river

Two towers, way harder to gang here compared to sentinel bottom

Use if first Scourge tower is down, vision of the shop exit towards the ancient camp.

Vision Mid Lane

Base entry, tower

Tower, good for harassing

Lane, minor river sight/small camp way

Tower, good for harassing

Tower, sight of river

Shop, tower/lane, safeguarding while killing roshan

Base entry, tower

Base entry, tower, maybe easier to set up

Vision Top Lane

Tower, Base entry, if tower is down already set this one further to the left for more vision.

Two towers, shop, way harder to gang here compared to scourge top

Tower, river

Alternative for tower vision

Tower, camp vision, I prefer this one

This one deserves 2 pictures, tower, base entry, far sight..

Two camps

Basevision Scourge Base

Vision of top tower

Vision of mid tower

Vision of mid tower

Vision of bottom tower

Basevision Sentinel Base

Vision of top and mid tower

Vision of bottom tower

Gameplay Walkthrough
Now to the probably hardest part when you should use which spot mentioned. Unfortunately there won't be an explicit answer for this. You have to be able to read in which direction the game is going to change for the next 6 minutes. For example you won't benefit from a ward in the enemy forest if there is no one farming because they put pressure on your base. Neither it won't help you to ward only rune spots if they are turteling and won't go near the river anyway. To provide an informative basis this could help you but you should not cramp on it at all costs.

Early Game
Block pullcamps, vision for runes

It is always helpful to prevent the enemies from pulling creeps. Also to prevent typical forest heroes from free farming for instance blocking the 3 camps with 2 wards on the sentinel side. This might force the enemy hero to go on a lane, buy sentry wards, or start creeping in your own jungle where he is way more vulnerable.
Having vision on runes is also never wrong most of the time the (carry) hero in mid will get a bottle and benefit most from it. Those wards work great against gangs for both your lane and his as well since you get vision of the river which is the mostly used path to gang in this stage of the game.

Mid Game
Vision for runes, Roshan, behind towers, ambush areas

In this stage of game it's still very useful to have vision of the river. Most of the gangs are done in Mid Game that is why you might even want to consider to ward behind the enemy tower. With this vision you can pretty invulnerably push them down since you always know if the enemy team ported already or will run across the river. On the other side if your team didn't do that well in early game your wards can turn the tide. Just try to set them more defensive and allow your team mates the safe required farming.

End Game
Roshan, ambush areas, Base

Basically you should keep using the same spots like in Mid Game but with a much higher attention to your current situation. There should always be a ward near roshan up so you even know before the enemy team started attacking him what they are trying. You might even ward their jungle similar to the early stage of the game with the difference not to block the spots since you want to get one of them alone preferably not full hp. For warding the enemy base I would advise to only do it if you got some scary AoE ultis in your team or you are pushing against someone with dagger and need to spot him as early as possible.

Of course it is helpful having vision of particular parts of the map but it would be even better if your enemies would have no vision at all. Remember Observer Wards stock takes 6 minutes to replenish while Sentry Wards are available all the time. This is one of the most important parts to get real mapcontrol against your opponents. It is crucial to know when and where they put up their wards. The easiest way to achieve the necessary knowledge is placing observer wards before your opponents put theirs up. Otherwise you blow 200 gold away for 200 vision (read none). This is the main reason why I put so many optional places into my guide. Placing them all the time just on the BEST spot allows your enemy to counter them pretty easily. You aim to analyze your enemy as fast as possible and use his behaviors to your advantage.
Basically you want to cover with one Sentry Ward at least 2 potential wardspots if you didn't see the enemy placing them. If you plan to counterward in your own jungle you also don't want to block one of your creepcamps from spawning (visit this link for more information about spawning areas).

Commonly used Sentry Wardspots
I added an overlay to each picture which is supposed to show the 800 true sight AoE. I tried to make it as accurate as possible but there might be a small difference between the real 800 AoE and the one I used.

The perfect sentinel sentryposition since it allows you to spot the 2 most used early spots and won't block a camp from spawning

Counters often used early wards, allowing you to pull

Same as above just on scourge side

Spotting 3 potential wardspots bottom rune, use one of them with an Observer Ward by yourself to spot them

Not so often used spot but it still allows you to uncover 2 spots

I suggest you only use this one if you are unsure which of both they warded, you need a ward on the left cliff or the use of your courier to spot both

This wonderful ward allows you to reveal 3 commonly used spots midgame

Another spot to counter 2 spots with just 1 ward

A further spot to counter 3 spots with just 1 ward

Since this spot provides so much vision it is good to ensure this position

Same as above just on sentinel side

Other items/skills with true sight
Gem of True Sight 700
Assured the best way to counter Wards. To destroy wards on cliffs you might want to use your Flying Courier simply right click on your and it will follow you. Only downside is if your hero dies the Gem is dropped.

Necronomicon LVL3 5200
After upgrading Necronomicon to LVL3 your Necronomicon Warrior has a 1000 AoE True Sight. Those little summons can spot and kill wards alone. Allowing your hero to stay rather safe in the background. Downside here is apparently the high price and you won't be able to summon them for 90 seconds.

Lightning Bolt
Very situational usage to spot Wards since it gives true sight within 900 range for 3 seconds.

Thundergod's Wrath
Not very useful to spot wards just mentioned for the sake of completeness.

Final words

Feedback, missing info, constructive criticism all welcome.

Credits to:
Zan for posting the blown up map
Everyone who suggested additional Wardspots in the comments/helped to improve the guide
Icons taken from playdota

06.20. Changed the colors on the first picture and the circlets into dots for easier recognition. Also added some basics about wards. Added a first standard value when to use which spot.
06.23. Added images with range of side of all wards.
06.24. Updated mainmap.
06.25. Added an short first introduction.
06.30. Added short descriptions under each picture, improved loading time hopefully.
07.03. Reworked design, added table of content.
07.04. Corrected some spelling mistakes.
07.05. Added a header image.
07.06. Added 2 new wards.
07.11. Added the Counterwarding section.
07.15. Pictures uploaded to PD Album.
07.23. Added Sentry Ward pictures.
07.25. Tweaked some Sentry Ward positions and added one more.
07.26. Fixed header image.
08.14. Rectified Lightning Bolt's true sight duration from 1 to 3.
08.23. Minor layout tweaks.
08.28. Replaced all Ward pictures once again for better visibility.
08.29. Major improvements to Sentry Ward pictures.
08.30. Reduced items/skills image size.
09.12. Changed header image.
10.14. Adjusted new Necronomicon costs, tweaked one ward and added one more.
03.25. Removed Eyes in the Forest
04.08. Updated Sentry Wards vision

Misc guide
Author: Eumellein
Map Vers.: 6.xx

Wardposition Guide

The warding basics

Date Posted: 07/02/09
Last Comment:05/08/2013
Total Votes: 257
Current Rating: 8.56
Views: 247792

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